The Duke of Duchess of Sussex may have less rights than they think over their forthcoming child. Picture: Tim Ireland — WPA Pool/Getty Images.
The Duke of Duchess of Sussex may have less rights than they think over their forthcoming child. Picture: Tim Ireland — WPA Pool/Getty Images.

Meghan and Harry won’t have full custody

WHILE Australia bursts into a simultaneous outpouring of emotions for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's baby news, the happy couple find themselves in a bit of troubling parenting pickle.

According to an obscure royal protocol, Prince Harry and Meghan's forthcoming child may not be theirs at all. Great grandmother Queen Elizabeth II, it seems, is able to take over custody of the newborn at a moment's notice and without the consent of the parents.

In fact, the sovereign can assert custody over any of the children of the royal flock meaning Kate and William's brood is also hers for the taking.

The bizarre agreement goes back to the 18th century and was reportedly put in place because of a falling out between King George I and his son.

The Duke of Duchess of Sussex with Taronga koala on Tuesday. The couple may have less rights than they think over their forthcoming child. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins/POOL).
The Duke of Duchess of Sussex with Taronga koala on Tuesday. The couple may have less rights than they think over their forthcoming child. Picture: AAP Image/Dean Lewins/POOL).

Drafted in 1717 and known, somewhat ambiguously, as the Grand Opinion for the Prerogative Concerning the Royal Family, the rule effectively means the monarch has a final say over the education, raising and marriage of their grandchildren as well as those of the heir to the throne.

At the time it meant King George I was able to veto the choice of godfather for his grandchild against his son's wishes.

Royal expert Marlene Koenig told The Sun earlier this year that the Grand Opinion effectively means the sovereign has rights over the children in their family.

"He did it because he had a very poor relationship with his son, the future King George II, so they had this law passed that meant the King was the guardian of his grandchildren," Ms Koenig said.

The ancient law dates back over 300 years when the monarch's "right of supervision extended to his grandchildren and this right of right belongs to His Majesty, King of the Realm, even during their father's lifetime," she said.

In the parenting department, the Queen holds all the cards. Picture: Alastair Grant — WPA Pool/Getty Images.
In the parenting department, the Queen holds all the cards. Picture: Alastair Grant — WPA Pool/Getty Images.

This means that when the Queen dies, the custody of royal minors would pass onto Prince Charles.

Marlene advised that the law still exists today, and has recently affected the way the royals parent their kids.

Ms Koenig cited the decision by Charles and Diana, then the Princess of Wales, to ask the Queen's decision for a young Harry and William to accompany them on a plane trip.

"Technically, they needed permission for travel. The Queen has the last word on parenting decisions like that," she said.

The bizarre law is allegedly said to have prevented Diana from flying to Australia with her kids before her death as she didn't have legal custody.

And Prince Charles was also required to seek permission for a teenage Prince William to go to holiday camp in America in the 1990s.

Ms Koenig said neither the divorces of the Wales' of the York's took into account custody as neither set of parents had it in the first place. Instead, informal arrangements were made for the children to spend time with their respective mum and dad.

But the Queen was not pushy, despite being in loco parentis.

"I would doubt that the Queen would interfere. (It's) more of a formality," Ms Koening told the Independent.

"I think the Queen has let her children raise their kids."